Slavery Reparations: People who have Never owned Slaves paying people who have never been slaves

Opinion on paying reparations for slavery

Bernie Sanders Discussing Slavery Reparations(photo courtesy of Ebony)

Bernie Sanders Discussing Slavery Reparations(photo courtesy of Ebony)

Wayne Chan, Editor-in-Chief

For the upcoming election, an incredibly controversial topic has surfaced after decades of being considered absurd: policy mandating reparations paid for slavery. Everybody can agree that slavery was a nefarious institution that subjugated an entire race of human beings to heinous conditions and abuse; therefore proponents who champion the banal argument of morality crucially misinterpret the criticisms of reparations for slavery.

Simply touting basic, universally agreed ethics is not adequate justification. Only an incredibly minuscule amount of people who oppose slavery reparations would actually advocate for slavery. Opponents of slavery reparations are not automatically supporters of slavery. Rather, it is because slavery reparations would accomplish nothing in providing justice and only exacerbate the political and racial schisms plaguing American politics.

Historically, all reparations are paid to people who have been actually suffered and survived the crime that would warrant reparations. For example, the Japanese citizens that were paid reparations were actual victims that lived and suffered through the internment camps. North Carolina once paid reparations to victims of a eugenics program. The City of Chicago once paid reparations to people they tortured during their interrogations.

Notice that in all these examples, reparations were paid to people who actually endured and suffered through a specific incident and were direct victims of it. No African American alive today has been a victim of institutional slavery carried out by the US government because institutional slavery was ended well over a century ago.

Today, after different generations of descendants have been born and raised, attempting to figure out who are the descendants of slaves and who are the descendants of owners would only create more bureaucratic difficulties and more procedures that unnecessarily distract the government from its duties.

Even if the government manages to create a fair system that ensures that people who receive reparations are indeed descendants of slaves, are they really victims of slavery? The link between their ancestors decades ago who suffered slavery and their well-being today is too ambiguous to definitively pinpoint slavery as directly responsible. If slavery can be attributed as the reason behind the conditions of generations later, then what more weak linkages between historical discrimination and contemporary conditions can be drawn to demand payment from the government. Would we suddenly consider to pay all women reparations because, historically, women had fewer rights than males?

Furthermore, if such a policy was implemented, demanding people who have never owned slaves to pay for people who have never been slaves, then the racial divide between races would only widen. Such a policy ignores individual actions and classifies an entire race of people as amoral and deserving of punishment even though many have personally never committed any acts of racism. This kind of politics feeds into identity politics wherein people classify each other, ironically, based on race as an attempt to silence civil discourse while under the facade that such censorship is to promote equality of the races.

The people today have no justification for reparations and the taxpayers of today have no moral obligation to pay. This policy is simply a tactic of utilizing professional victimization to distract from legitimate policies.